31 January 2009

Saturday round up

The sky is blue. The sun is shining. The snow is melting. It's a beautiful day.

paper whites jan 31
My paper white plant is slowly growing and should start blooming any day. It is really enjoying the sun today.

AARP. Really?
I keep getting AARP membership cards in the mail. This might be normal if I was over 40 or 50, right? Well I'm only 26 and I've been getting them for the past few years. It makes me laugh. I wonder why they think I'm retired?!

Happy Super Bowl weekend!

28 January 2009

Ragged squares quilt - fresh out of the dryer

ragged squares quilt final 2
Speaking of simple things I like ... taking a quilt out of the dryer is one of my most favorite things.  It's all crinkly, smells great, looks great, is warm and cuddly. What's not to like?!

ragged squares quilt final 1
Here it is on our front-yard snowbank this morning. It actually makes the snow look warm!

26 January 2009

It's the simple things.

tangerines from mom
I like simple things. Like getting a box of fresh tangerines in the mail from my mom. There are few things in this world as tasty as fresh tangerines from my parent's backyard tree (in the dead of winter in North Dakota). I lost count, but I think I had six today. Thanks, mom!

basement fireplace
A warm fire on a cold day. I'm so very thankful for our basement fireplace to keep me warm when I'm working in my sewing room. It's another cold day here, it was -17°F when we were having breakfast this morning. In case you were wondering, no, I don't play chess, nor do I know how to set up a chess board. I just like how it looks.

improv. blocks - red/black 2
Yippee for progress on the improv.-pieced red/black/white quilt. I decided to add white to set off the blocks. Every-other block will have a white border. The other blocks will also have pieces of white in them. The blocks are 9.5 inches square. I'm happy with how they look. I was rather nervous about this whole "just wing it" quilt method but after adding the white, I really like it.

I'm still not done with the binding on the ragged squares quilt ... maybe tonight? I've half-way done ... I should get busy.

24 January 2009

It's Saturday and I'm quilting

project improv. donation block
This block is another project that is part of the "project improv." Along with making a quilt that's pieced improvisationally, we all are making a quilt block that will be a part a charity quilt. I signed up for a red/aqua block. Here it is. It's another one made with all scraps. It measures 10.5 inches square. I'm really happy with it. After I get more red and aqua scraps I want to make a quilt like this for myself.

work in progress - red, white, black quilt
I started this project today. It's definitely a work in progress. These blocks aren't even done yet. This is what improv.-style quilt blocks look like when they are being made and before they are trimmed. Really scrappy. I hope they don't look too busy. Maybe I'll add some white like the block above? Border every-other block in white? Or border them all with white? Any advice?

23 January 2009

Parhelia come to town

Do you know what parhalia are? They are sun dogs. I've been hunting them for a few weeks now and was never able to catch them. Until today. The temperatures dropped to the single digits, there was moisture in the air and I just knew it was going to be a good day for sun dogs. This wikipedia article does a great job of describing how sun dogs are formed. Basically, they form when it's really cold and there are tiny ice crystals in the air. They are kind of like a cousin to a rainbow.

Anyway, we get them here in Bismarck and across the northern plains quite frequently in the winter. The reason they are tough to get photos of - it's DARN COLD when they are out. And they come and go quite quickly.

I've gotten in the habit of bringing my camera to work "just in case" the sun dogs come out, I'll be ready.

Bismarck Sun Dog 6
At about 9 am this morning, I took a little peek outside and was very excited to see little "snow puppies" (tiny sun dogs) looking like dimples around the sun. The sun is hidden behind the bell banner. To get this photo (above), I had to go out of the building. I wasn't really prepared to go outside – I just had my work clothes on and a light weight scarf (no hat, gloves or coat). But I thought I'd just be out for a few second, snap a quick photo and I'd run right back in. Wrong. I was locked out in -25°F windchill. I forgot that we usually keep the doors by the chapel locked because they are rarely used. Bummer. I had to quickly and carefully walk (I had heels on) to the other door. To get to the other door, I had to make a giant U, following the walking path (the covered area in the photo). I was a popsicle when I finally got inside again. But it was worth it.

Bismarck Sun Dog 5
At about 4 pm today I got a call from Sister Janet (my favorite sun dog spotter - her office faces the sun!) she said the sun dogs were even better than this morning. Wow was she right! The photo above was taken just on the other side of the covered walkway in the previous photo). Notice that the sun doesn't travel very far during the day - gotta love that North Dakota winter. I am fascinated by this photo. It's neat to see how the sun dogs form a circle shape around the sun. Amazing.

Bismarck Sun Dog 4
Since I get off work at 4:30 pm, I hung around campus (in the warmth of my car) and snapped a few more photos. Although I think the 4 pm photo really 'takes the cake,' these are pretty amazing too.

Bismarck Sun Dog 3
This tree is right by the monastery. I like how the sun (and sun dogs) look behind it.

Bismarck Sun Dog 2
The sun is going down ...
Bismarck Sun Dog 1
It's amazing what -2°F and frozen vapors will do to a sunset.

Don't forget that you can click on any photo to see it bigger in Flickr. Once in Flickr, look at the buttons right above the photo and click on "All Sizes."

22 January 2009

Thursday round up

First things first ...

New recipe! I'm getting more adventurous in the kitchen - I threw a bunch of stuff together and created a great little recipe. check it out. I call it Man Quiche.

I whipped up a batch of my Raspberry Kuchen Bars last night and took them to work today. I think I made a lot of new friends. Seriously, they are that good. They tasted especially good because this time of year we're not eating much fruit so the raspberries tasted magical. (I used frozen raspberries from my bonus mom's garden).

Ragged squares quilted 1
I finished quilting the ragged squares quilt about an hour ago. It took some wrestling to get it quilted in the square design ... and I broke two sewing machine needles ... but though it all, I think it turned out nicely. 

Ragged squares quilted 2
Now to sew on the binding. That'll be a good weekend project. Here is the quilt pattern. This would be a great beginner quilt - It's fast, fun and easy. As always, I'm looking forward to getting it washed and krinkly. 

fabric fun 3
As I was finishing up I noticed how neat and tidy my fabric shelves looked. Time to show them off. Here they are in all their folded glory.

fabric fun 1
I've beefed up my green stack lately ... time for a green quilt maybe? Or to use the black/white/red pile on the bottom right? Decisions, decisions.

fabric fun 2
This little stack of blue is super cute.

19 January 2009

Six crosses is done! and a new recipe.

six crosses finished
Here is is! All done. I quilted it yesterday and finished the binding last night.

six crosses - close up
Here's a close-up.

I am planning on submitting this in the Artists Celebrating Christ Art Show. I'll keep you all updated if I get accepted and then I'll post the show dates and details. The story behind this quilt is posted here. This quilt is part of project improv - a bunch of quilters dedicated to sewing a quilt without a pattern - check out our Flickr group.

I am also posting a new recipe. It's a good one. Although not low-fat, it's great comfort food.

Dakota Growers Pasta Co.
As part of the recipe, I'm plugging Dakota Growers Pasta Co. pasta. Aside from how great it tastes (super good) it's made right here in North Dakota (Carrington, ND to be exact). Anytime we make something with pasta we try to use this kind. Doesn't that look like Corey and I harvesting wheat? 
Well I think it does.

18 January 2009

Work(s) in progress

quilting the ragged squares quilt
I'm about half way done quilting the ragged squares quilt. It just keeps getting more cute. The pattern is from here (that's a great quilting website, by the way).

The six crosses quilt is about 90 percent completed. I quilted it today and will start hand sewing the binding (outer border) on when I get done typing this. I can't wait to show it off. Stay tuned.

For those that are wondering, the Grandpa Andy computer training went very well. I had a great time teaching and converting another Apple fan. ha ha. They even fed me lunch and sent me home with lots of leftovers, which were all delicious. The most eventful thing about the trip were the road conditions. On the way down there was lots of blowing snow but nothing too dangerous. But while I was in Linton, the weather and roads warmed up enough so that the snow was sticking to the road, causing lots of ice and snow drifts to form on the road surface. On the way back to Bismarck, I saw seven cars in the ditch (most were SUVs and pick-ups) and one was even flipped over on its roof. Crazy. Needless to say, it was quite a stressful drive, but I arrived home safe and sound.

16 January 2009

heat wave.

It was 24°F today! It felt so warm I actually decided to leave my coat, and mittens, and hat, and scarf, and snow boots in the car this afternoon and go into work after lunch without the "keep me warm" extra clothing. It was awesome. It felt so warm. Almost hot. When did 24° become warm?! So, lets see ... that means that from the low yesterday to the high today, we had a temperature swing of nearly 70° - only in North Dakota.

Speaking of the weather yesterday ... I did more research and I'm 99 percent sure that the various areas in North Dakota (most had temps around -44°F) yesterday were the coldest temperatures in the United States — by a lot. Yes, this is including all of Alaska. Wowzers. That's impressive. I feel empowered and brave all of a sudden.

For those of you who enjoyed my fun facts about 40 below temperatures, you might like this article (and video) from the Bismarck Tribune. The video is especially amusing - check out what bubbles, balloons and hot coffee do at 30-40 below.

I'm in the process of trying to document sun dogs. Check out that link - or wait for my report on them if you'd like my perspective. I've gotten so interested in the wonders of extreme cold weather I'm beginning to think I may be in the wrong career. Not really. Well maybe. Anyway, sun dogs are one of those things that you see all the time ... until you want to take a photo ... then you can't find them. I heard they were awesome yesterday but, (go figure) I was too wussy to go outside.

Tomorrow I'm driving 45 miles south to Linton, ND, to teach Corey's grandpa, 'Grandpa Andy' how to use a computer. It'll be a learning experience for both of us, I'm sure. I'm really looking forward to it. Maybe I'll even be lucky enough to catch some sun dogs on my drive.

15 January 2009

40 below

Bismarck set another weather record today. And NO, this is not a weather blog, it's just that weather is the most blog-worthy thing going on around here lately, especially today. 

So ... drum roll ... the record ... coldest temperature on record for today's date - negative 44. That's -44°F air temperature, not counting wind chill. That's darn cold. 

I did a bit of research about the significance of a temperature of 40 below zero. 

To my surprise there is a tourist attraction in Alaska (Fairbanks and Denali) called Alaska At 40 Below. They take visitors into a glorified cooler at -40°F and teach about how to dress for the weather, how animals adapt and send folks home with certificates, welcoming them into the "40 Below Club." No fair! I want one!

More fun facts:

40 degrees below zero is the only temperature where Celsius and Fahrenheit are the same. wow. amazing.

Water will vaporize at 40 below. I so should have tried this! Just throw a cup of water in the air and watch - nothing will hit the ground.

Helicopters stop working. Airplanes have trouble running. Gas pumps freeze up and stop working. Car radios don't work right. Mercury freezes - that means most thermometers don't work. Skin freezes almost instantly (I can vouch for this one). 

The folks up at work today all made a point to go out and start their cars over lunch break so that they would warm up for a while. Just so that the cars had a better chance of starting at the end of the day. (mine did just fine)

Even though it is darn cold. I do love it here. We joke that the cold keeps out the riff raff. It's so true.

Anyway, here are some photos I snapped today from my car window because it was too cold to go 'out' and take them.

stuck truck
This guy won't be going anywhere any time soon. The snow plow totally plowed him in. bummer.

up to the street signs
The driveway to our church parking lot has the snow piled so high that it almost touches the street signs.

mailbox snow piles
This is our mailbox. Our neighborhood is nice to the mail people - this box has the mailboxes for 12 homes. Since it's in front of our house, we're responsible for keeping a path to it when the snow gets too high and the snowplow drops huge mountains in front of it. (notice the nice little snow cave that's carved to it).

finished puzzle - bugs
This is some of my 40 below entertainment. 

13 January 2009

85 and sunny

... or the exact opposite.

Another crazy winter day here in Bismarck, ND.
We've received at least six more inches (probably more now that I think of it) of snow today. It's hard to tell exactly how much we got because it blew around and piled up awkwardly.

Because of the drifts of snow and wind blowing the snow into the air (causing very limited visibility) we got to leave work early today - yay for snow afternoons. But that's where the fun ends. It is still snowing. When will it stop?!? We've already made national news for the last few days in-a-row. I've heard of people that have to shovel off the roof of their house for fear it will collapse. Good thing the snow seems to just blow right off our roof. I doubt Corey or I would ever dare to shovel our roof off. yeah. nope.

I think I'm about to lose my mind.
Do you know what cabin fever is? I'm pretty sure I'm on the verge of having a very serious case of it.

Not the scary demented "Shining" kind of cabin fever ... the restless, sleepy, funny, goofy kind. (for the record). ha.

... as proof of my serious "condition" ... I just accidently posted this entry in my Bison Girl Cooks blog ... woopsie daisy :)

---- UPDATE ---- 
Bismarck received over five inches of snow today for a total of over 53 inches this season. Also on the news, a story on winter depression and the risk of drinking at home, alone (death). Seriously, people, I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried. Winter here this year is out of this world.

12 January 2009

Work in progress: six crosses

six crosses
I've been productive and already have my "six crosses" squares completed and bordered with white fabric. Next I will sew the six together, make a back, and then quilt. It's amazing how fast these little quilts progress compared to a big throw quilt.

I'm humming and hawing about the placement. Any insight? I want to keep the colors and shapes balanced.

Not to keep writing about the weather - but we got another few inches of snow and lots of strong wind last night. That resulted in some massive snow drifts in our driveway. And that resulted in a very sore shoveling shoulder for me. ouch.

11 January 2009

Sunday snow update

Hager summit
Bismarck received 6.1 inches of snow in January (so far). 

shoveling out Jan. 2009
Since December 1, over 39 inches of snow has fallen in Bismarck. For December, that is the most snow to fall in Bismarck for that month.

That's all nice and dandy, but yowzer all that snow shoveling will give you a backache.

... another few inches of snow forecasted tonight.

09 January 2009

Message to snow: Stay up there, we don't need any more!

waiting for spring
My paper white bulbs and I are amazed at all the snow we have. We got another five inches of snow last night and another few inches this morning. Maria and Matthew, my bonus sister and brother have a snow day off school today - yahoo! They live 2 1/2 hours north of here and got over a foot of snow yesterday. 

At out house, we have snow piles over four feet high lining our driveway. It's crazy.

ragged squares quilt top 2
All the more reason to stay inside and quilt! ... I finished this quit top. No back yet and it still need to be quilted. It's probably the most girly quilt I've ever made.

ragged squares quilt top 1

and my second quilt of 2009 ...
improv-pieced crosses
I started an improv-pieced quilt. Basically this just means that I don't use a pattern - I just randomly sew pieces together to create a quilt. There is a Flickr group dedicated to this project. Check it out - just click the link. There are about 115 of us that are participating. The quilt I decided to make will represent my journey through RCIA – yes, I'm becoming Catholic! The quilt will be a wall hanging of six squares (crosses). 

Depending on how it turns out, I might submit it in the Artists Celebrating Christ Art Show. So far I think the quilt is looking pretty good - especially considering it's made of all batik scraps. Thanks to my Aunt Kristen for donating a bag of scraps recently – they came in very handy with this project. The squares have an amazing stained glass look which I am really enjoying. I will border each of the squares with white fabric (for a total size of about 10 inches square), then sew the six squares together, and then I will quilt it. 

07 January 2009

New recipe!

Check out my new recipe over here.

I'd write more but I have a almost-finished puzzle to attend to.

05 January 2009

It's winter in North Dakota


Right about this time of the year, the rest of the nation gets geared up for the longer days, warmer sun, greener grass, and blooming flowers that spring brings. Well, here in North Dakota we're still deep in the belly of winter ... for another three to four months.

My boss sent this little poem to me last week. It made me giggle. 
I really do love North Dakota. I also love the fact my nose is frozen shut.

It's winter in North Dakota

And the gentle breezes blow

Seventy miles an hour

At twenty-five below

Oh, how I love North Dakota

When the snow's up to your butt

You take a breath of winter

And your nose gets frozen shut

Yes, the weather here is wonderful

So I guess I'll hang around

I could never leave North Dakota

'Cause I'm frozen to the ground

If you are in the mood for more North Dakota fun ... check out this song. Just click play to hear "If You're Gonna' Play in Fargo (You Better Have a Shovel in the Van)." 

Haha hoo he ha.
... So funny I think I just defrosted my frozen nose.

Hope you all are enjoying your weather wherever you are.

*Sorry about the recycled photo. It's too darn cold to go outside to take a new one.

01 January 2009

Show and tell

In browsing through some recent photos on my computer I realized I have lots for show and tell.
oven mits by me
Oven mits given as Christmas gifts. Patten from here. They match the aprons I made earlier this year.
Flowers in the kitchen
These aprons are awesome and super cute! Apron pattern from here.
Asian Springtime quilt
This is a golden oldie quilt I completed in 2003 'ish' I call it Asian Springtime. It's actually four quilts of the same pattern (40x40"), arranged two by two, to made a large (80x80") quilt.

Grandma Katy's quilt
I just finished this one mid-December to give to my Grandma Katy for Christmas. See the work in progress here.
Grandma Katy's quilt label
Grandma Katy's quilt quilting

First 2009 quilt

ragged squares quilt
Here is my first project for 2009 - a raged squares quilt from this pattern. I am using fabrics from my collection - some from the great sale and others from scraps. 

I've got a few projects in the works ... including this one that I kind of forgot about until now. I have a feeling January will be a very productive quilting month.

Happy 2009!

I'm honestly not a huge fan of the 'New Year' holiday but I do like the feeling of starting something new ... hence the new quilt.